11 pairs of socks every woman should own

Here’s my list of items you need to have in your sock drawer. I write for women well over 50 but the list applies to all women really.

  1. No-show socks for inside sneakers
  2. Secret socks for inside shoes and sandals
  3. Knee-length nylon socks for wearing under office or evening pants
  4. Neat socks for under trousers
  5. Colorful socks for under pants
  6. Cuffed socks for wearing with skirts and dresses
  7. Gripper socks for wearing on wood and ceramic floors
  8. Cashmere socks for lounging
  9. Short socks for running or sports
  10. Thick socks for hiking and mud
  11. Compression socks for flights

Invisible socks for sneakers

These work for any shoe that ends high up on your foot – for example some loafers, and ankle boots. 

For several years it has been the style to wear many shoes against a bare ankle.  And this has been especially true of sneakers.  However, as we all know from slipping into our new trainers barefoot and admiring how good they look, it only takes a few days for these shoes to smell.

We probably spend more hours these days in sneakers than any other type of shoe.  So the right sock for your sneakers is your number one priority.

You’re looking for yarns that are soft to your feet but have enough thickness and strength to prevent the skin on your heels or toes rubbing into blisters.  This is even more important if you wear them with leather shoes such as loafers.

You need socks that wash well as you’ll be putting them through the machine often.

Natural fabrics such as viscose made from bamboo or organic cotton are ideal. 

Secret socks for lower cut shoes

If you wear ballet pumps or any lower-cut shoe then you’ll need secret socks to line them if you want to avoid blisters.

These little socks need to be very fine so as not to push these more lightweight shoes out of shape.  But at the same time you don’t want them to slip off your ankle.  Getting a sock that ticks both of these requirements seems to be an one of the world’s most intractable problems of the twenty-first century.

I’ve found that socks with a scalloped edge, and a non-slip rubber-like sole that keeps them in place, are the nearest you get to what you want of these little socks.  But even so, don’t expect perfection.  Some shoes will work fine over these sockettes, while others will not.

Knee-length socks that look like nylons

If you hate wearing tights or pantyhose – as I do – then from time to time you’ll want long socks that look like nylons at ankle level.  These can be skin-tone with no reinforcement at the toe for wearing with strappy sandals. Or choose reinforced toes in sheer or opaque to wear with closed toe shoes.

These are perfect when you are wearing silky trousers or light-weight evening pants.

PLEASE promise never to wear these under a skirt or dress.  I know, you look in the mirror, twirl around and think ‘this hem easily covers the top of these socks’.  Yes, it does when you are upright.

 But not when you’re sitting down, especially if you tend to cross your legs. 

And as Marilyn well knew, it only takes a sudden gust of wind from the wrong direction to reveal all.  In her case everyone enjoyed the sight of those slim and well-toned knees and thighs.  In our case, over 50 or so, the sight can be…horrendous! 

The sock compresses the fat of your lower leg and then lets the whole lot go its own way at knee level.  The person sitting on the low sofa opposite your armchair is treated to an image it is hard to erase from the memory.

Short neat socks

Short or mid-high socks with added stretch are ideal with loafers or inside ankle boots if you like a smart look for work or perhaps in the evening.  Or, indeed, if you don’t feel confident showing your bare ankles these days.

Look for seamless socks for comfort.

Choose the sock color to match your trousers to elongate your legs.  Yes, you’ll display bare leg above the sock when you cross your legs but these socks do not compress your fat.  They should cling but not leave a mark. 

Think ‘now the socks’ as soon as you buy new pants or you’ll forget to buy them and be stuck with an inoffensive but not-quite-right color for the next few years of wearing those pants.

If you don’t want to show any bare skin at all then invest in socks that come to mid-calf. 

Bright and patterned socks

More of a boho or unique style type?  Then rather than elongating your leg – see above – choose a pair of socks in a vivid color or with a good pattern. 

The heavier the material of your pants, the thicker your socks can be.  So don’t wear wool socks with silk trousers – you’ll look better in ankle- or knee-high nylons.  Denim, corduroy, tweed, wool and heavier-weight fabrics look best with a wool or thick cotton sock. 

Plain trousers and jeans look great with a bright-colored ankle sock. Navy and black look good with most colors but get noticed with strong pink, yellow or green socks. Or strike out into tartan, vivid stripes or designer logos. It’s a useful way to add personality to an otherwise classic outfit.

During the day navy striped socks look good under jeans, especially if you’re going for a more casual look for your French chic outfit.

If you’re more an artsy type then under those linen pants or denim dungarees choose socks with a pattern that tells people a bit more about you.

A quick plug for Seasalt socks, based by the sea in Cornwall. Ethical, sustainable and often with a charity donation built in, Seasalt now ships its beautiful, seaside-inspired artsy-boho clothes worldwide. I love their refined color combinations which are miles away from the garish patterns you’ll often see on colorful socks.

Socks to wear with sandals

If you follow fashion you’ll know that socks and sandals or indeed most other shoes are now a thing.  And that goes for cropped pants as well as dresses.  It’s all part of the style today of finding alternative ways to make people notice your feet and ankles without always wearing high heels. 

Now, if the thought of people looking at your ankles makes you squirm you’ll want to forget these socks.

Otherwise, look for socks that have a cuff above the ankle. You’ll see lots of pretty, lace-trimmed socks for sandals but frankly, I think after 50 we’re way too old for that look

If you just fold over your usual socks you risk folk thinking you never really got over how good you looked as a twirler in the fifties.

This style takes a bit of confidence, but it’s undeniably comfortable.  Unless, of course, you decide to pop on some pretty white socks with your stillettos.  Then beware bunions, or at the very least, pushing your shoes out of shape.  Call me conservative, but socks and heels look bonkers to me.  I have a hard enough time accepting socks and sandals.

Grippy house socks

If you’ve got shiny floors at home, then invest in a pair of warm socks with a pattern of grippers on the sole.  They are super comfy without risking falls in the kitchen.   If you’re over fifty or suffer from dizziness, then buy a pair immediately.  Yes, immediately!

Cashmere socks

Do you love to snuggle down on the sofa in your pyjamas or robe to watch your favorite TV show in the evening?  Then save money.  Turn down the heating – you won’t need it overnight – and pull on a luxury pair of soft cashmere socks.  They’ll make you feel like a star after a hard day on the set.  Pampering doesn’t get better than this.  And if you wake up at two in the morning still on the sofa, who cares?  Crawl into bed in your socks – you’ll need the extra heat now.

Zappos Stance flounder women's running socks in green
Zappos Stance flonder tab running socks with arch support are a breathable close-fit for comfort and safety

Sports socks

If you’ve been using the same little no-show socks in your sneakers while out running or at the gym, it’s time to rethink.  Get the right sock for the sport you practise.  Although it looks good to show a nice tanned ankle when playing tennis, your first thought should be for comfort and health.  You’ll need arch support for running, good moisture absorption for most sports (OK not fishing!).  You want the socks to have a good height and grip so there’s no danger of them slipping down inside your shoe.

Walking boot and wellie socks

If you like to go for long country walks then likely you already own good hiking or walking boots.  So don’t skimp on your socks.  From scientifically engineered walking socks all the way through to thick wool knee-high socks, choose your socks according to the season and the terrain. 

If you’re out with the dog in wellies, long socks are not only comfortable, but also in style these days.  Just remember that thicker socks require a larger sized shoe.

If trudging through the mud is not your thing perhaps you’ll be flying off to somewhere warmer.  It’s always wise to pull on a pair of flight socks, especially for long flights.  They compress your ankles and calves to encourage circulation.  If you’ve been advised to wear support stockings in the past, you could continue caring for your legs by wearing these compression socks when walking the dog or just relaxing at home.

Well, that’s us back on the sofa again then!

I hope you’ve found these notes and buying suggestions useful. Here’s what you might want to read next:

What to wear with leggings at 60.

The best cardigans for women over 50 and how to style them.

Too many clothes but nothing to wear? Take a look at

The Mature Style Course

Small easy steps to declutter your closet and build a useful wardrobe that flatters your shape and fits your budget.

4 thoughts on “11 pairs of socks every woman should own

  1. Very helpful post. I need to fill in some empty spots in my sock collection.

    I have always enjoyed fun socks and really like your example of the socks with birds. Tooo cute!

  2. Here in Colorado, USA, I would add Smart Wool socks and Bombas. I have to add Hikers socks as they are crew length but very thick and warm for under boots and shoes for very cold winter. I even put them on for cold nights watching TV on the sofa! I like thin wool socks in the summer under my slip on Sketchers. They keep feet dry and blister free. I buy my slip on Sketchers in two sizes, 6.5 for thin normal socks and size 7 wide for thick hikers. Works for this 78 year old woman!

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